You’ve done all the right things to build a healthy stock of miles and points – taking advantage of sign-up bonuses and special offers from your rewards credit card and using your card wisely. Now, you’ve got a tidy sum, ready to redeem for various perks, upgrades, and freebies. This is undoubtedly the best and most fun part of collecting points.
Some credit card issuers let you turn those earned points into cash (often at a rate of one cent for each point), but why not dream bigger and grander? That tropical holiday, first-class ticket, new digital camera equipment, or a weekend at a five-star resort are all within reach, thanks to other loyalty programs partnering with your rewards credit card.
Choosing a Program
Sign up for the loyalty programs with offers that suit you best, based on your interests and lifestyle. This can include anything from a shopping spree on Amazon.com or business-class tickets to Brazil. Keep current with any changes your favorite programs put into place. For example, credit card companies are always adding new partners. American Express Membership Rewards just recently welcomed Uber and Plenti, providing access to goods and services from big names like Exxon, Nationwide and Macy’s.
If you have points sprinkled across a number of loyalty programs, consider transferring them to a single program so you maximize their redemption power. For a fabulous 10-day vacation to France next summer, you’ll want to put your points in the same basket to make that trip a reality.
Getting the Most Value
As with many things in life, timing is everything. That’s true when it comes to transferring miles and points. If you’re savvy, you may be able to tap into special offers where some pretty sweet bonuses (more points!) are offered to collectors.
Loyalty programs want you to choose them (over their competitors) to be the recipient of your precious points so they’ll tempt you with limited-time promotions. Smart collectors sign up for email blasts and text alerts to get the latest news and offers. Also, make a point to follow those partners on social media for special flash deals, and be ready to spring into action when you see them.
Determining the Best Transfer Ratios
Generally speaking, your credit card loyalty miles and points can be transferred to other participating loyalty program partners at a 1:1 ratio – meaning your 50,000 Citi Thank You® points, for example, will turn into 50,000 Flying Blue Award Miles (redeemable for Air France and KLM flights).
Sometimes you’ll find more generous ratios where, for example, those 1,000 Thank You® points will net you 1,500 Hilton HHonors points. Each loyalty program has its own terms, so be sure to check them. Also take note of things like minimum and maximum transfer allowances, expiration, and blackout dates.
Many globetrotters like the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card. It offers two times the points on transactions for travel and dining. If you’re a Chase Sapphire cardholder, use those Chase Ultimate Rewards points at full value (1:1 ratio) with frequent travel programs for flights from British Airways, United, Korean Air, Southwest and Virgin Atlantic, or hotel stays with Hyatt, Marriott, The Ritz-Carlton, and IHG.
Always Planning Ahead
When you’re ready to move your points to a preferred loyalty program partner, keep in mind that not all transfers happen instantaneously — some may take few hours or even a few days. That’s something you may need to plan for when securing flights and hotels. The good news is, some airlines (such as Lufthansa and American) let you put an award seat on hold, giving you a bit of time for transferred miles and points to reach your account.
One final tip: when it comes to deciding where to transfer your points and how to redeem them, most experts agree they are best used on travel versus non-travel rewards like merchandise. Since you have a wide range of choices when it comes to shopping for the best prices on goods in the real world, you may end up paying more on the shopping site connected to your loyalty program.
That’s good news for those with wanderlust. The world awaits!